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Abstract:Prediction with experts' advice is one of the most fundamental problems in online learning and captures many of its technical challenges. A recent line of work has looked at online learning through the lens of differential equations and continuous-time analysis. This viewpoint has yielded optimal results for several problems in online learning. In this paper, we employ continuous-time stochastic calculus in order to study the discrete-time experts' problem. We use these tools to design a continuous-time, parameter-free algorithm with improved guarantees for the quantile regret. We then develop an analogous discrete-time algorithm with a very similar analysis and identical quantile regret bounds. Finally, we design an anytime continuous-time algorithm with regret matching the optimal fixed-time rate when the gains are independent Brownian Motions; in many settings, this is the most difficult case. This gives some evidence that, even with adversarial gains, the optimal anytime and fixed-time regrets may coincide.

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Abstract:Prediction with expert advice is a foundational problem in online learning. In instances with $T$ rounds and $n$ experts, the classical Multiplicative Weights Update method suffers at most $\sqrt{(T/2)\ln n}$ regret when $T$ is known beforehand. Moreover, this is asymptotically optimal when both $T$ and $n$ grow to infinity. However, when the number of experts $n$ is small/fixed, algorithms with better regret guarantees exist. Cover showed in 1967 a dynamic programming algorithm for the two-experts problem restricted to $\{0,1\}$ costs that suffers at most $\sqrt{T/2\pi} + O(1)$ regret with $O(T^2)$ pre-processing time. In this work, we propose an optimal algorithm for prediction with two experts' advice that works even for costs in $[0,1]$ and with $O(1)$ processing time per turn. Our algorithm builds up on recent work on the experts problem based on techniques and tools from stochastic calculus.

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